hist-brewing: historical mashing/new "old ale"

Eric A. Rhude ateno at panix.com
Thu May 14 13:54:25 PDT 1998

> Newbie brewer with a couple of questions:
> 1) In reviewing early (i.e. 1500-1750) sources (i.e. those found in 
> Renfrow, _Sip Through Time_) for beer/ale brewing, the mashing process 
> that seems to be called for is bringing the water to a boil (or almost a 
> boil?) and then pouring it (softly/gently?) over the malts in another 
> tub.  This is then left to sit for 1-3 hours (or until the "second water" 
> is ready), and is then "let out" of the tub and off of the grains into a 
> boiling vessel where it is then boiled (or gently heated?).
> It doesn't seem that the idea of mashing at a controlled temperature 
> (i.e. with the use of a thermometer, @ about 160 deg. F) came about until 
> 1800 or so.  (BTW, when _was_ the invention of the thermometer?)
> Does anyone out there have experience with this sort of "infusion" mash?  
> I am interested in doing this (after an already failed attempt -- I think 
> my water was not hot enough so my wort was really weak [compared to what 
> I was expecting], plus an infection crept into the secondary, reminding 
> me the importance of sanitation!].  Advice is welcome (and hoped for).


My knowledge and redactions beginning experiece come from
Gervase (SP?) Markham.  

Basically boil your water, and keep it boiling, ladel (8 oz at a time)
on to you grist, untill your grain is covered by an inch 
of water.

Guess what the mix becomes about 160 deg F

When you let it sit, keep it warm by blankets under, around and 
on top.

> 2) (This also relates to #1)  My hope is to do a kind of new "old ale", 
> using not any particular early source (1500-1600), but kind of a 
> conglomeration of.  Here are my thoughts:
> For 5 gallons, use:
> 	8 lbs. 2-row malted barley
> 	1.5 lbs. local wildflower honey
> 	.5 oz. hops (Cascade)
> 	1 pk. Edme ale yeast
> Based on Digby's "Small Ale for the Stone" (and because I don't care too 
> much for the bitterness of hops), I am planning on boiling 4 gallons of 
> water with the .5 oz of hops for near 1 hour.  Then pouring this mixture 
> over the 8 lbs of malt (kept in a mesh bag) into a plastic 
> primary/bottling bucket (i.e. has spigot at bottom for racking/bottling), 
> letting it sit for 2-2.5 hours (as per Digby), and then racking back into 
> boiling vessel (mesh bag helps keep debris out).
> Then per later practices, I plan on sparging the rest of the grain by 
> pouring two one gallon batches of boiled water over the grains 
> (waste-not, want-not).  This should bring total volume of water to be 
> boiled in boiling vessel to approx. 5 gallons (my brew-pot only holds 
> 5.5!).  This will be boiled/simmered for about 75-90 minutes (to get hot 
> break), with the addition of the 1.5 lb. honey for taste/higher sugar 
> content.
> Wort will be slow cooled, transfered to plastic primary, and pitched with 
> Edme ale yeast the following day.  After one week, will be transferred to 
> glass secondary for two weeks (allowing more sediment to fall), then 
> bottled with use of gyle for carbonation.
> The 8 lb. of grain is based loosely on the "1577" beer recipe -- figuring 
> that through conversions the malt required is just a little over 8 lbs., 
> plus oats and wheat equalling about a total of 1.5 lbs.  Honey, being 
> about 80% fermentable sugar, is being used instead of the oats and 
> wheat.  I am using Edme, only because I have used it in the past, so I 
> know more or less what to expect.  All told, I think this could yield a 
> maximum (on paper) SG of 1.059, with a maximum possible alcohol of roughly 8%.
> How does this sound to others?  I tend to be a bit on the "lazy" (or 
> should I say "relaxed"?) side, so I am not interested in keeping a 
> careful watch over the mashing process (i.e. thermometers and controlled 
> heat), so I would much prefer to brew this using the "infusion" technique 
> described above.  I am also hoping to start this on this Sunday (5/17).  
> My past experience includes a couple of "ok" meads (the last one not 
> having enough honey), and (as I said before) a "practice ale" (which I 
> didn't get to try, but followed pretty much this above receipt).  Any and 
> all advice very welcome.  Flames too! (even though they should be 
> reserved for heating wort)

It is a very relaxed process, remember it is not a very
efficient process, made basically for making whole barrels 
of ale at a time, I have no idea what happens to 
the beer when it is redacted down to 
a 5 or 3 gallon batch.

Other than that it sounds like you have a good idae, and 
worring a bit to much 8)

Eric Rhude
ateno at panix.com

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